Revolution #270, May 27, 2012
Speak-out at the Sanford Police Station—WE SAY NO MORE
This report was posted at basicsbustour.tumblr.com on May 26:
Sweltering afternoon sun beats down through towering oaks and Spanish moss on the streets of a Black community in Sanford, Florida. A community that has witnessed a very different scene for the past two days. The BAsics Bus Tour has been rolling through bringing the BAsics of revolution and building for a special speak-out right there in Sanford. For two days fliers went out with a picture of Trayvon Martin, "We Say 'No More' Speak-out at the Sanford Police Station at 4 pm," the news spread by word of mouth from friend to friend and on the radio with Carl Dix and Sunsara Taylor making appearances on local stations to announce that the BAsics Bus Tour came to Sanford with a purpose and a message.
We came to Sanford because this is the place where Trayvon Martin was gunned down by the racist wanna-be-cop George Zimmerman. The place where the killer of a young Black man went free and police refused to arrest him for six weeks, and only arrested him and charged him because people stood up and protested in the streets for weeks all around the country. We came here not because this is the only place that this kind of thing happens, but because this kind of thing happens all the time in cities and neighborhoods, to Black youth everywhere. The killing of Trayvon Martin concentrates the reality for oppressed youth throughout this country every hour of every single day, and that's why this resonated so deeply and people declared, "We are all Trayvon Martin." Now people are being told to sit back, get out of the streets and allow the courts to "do their job" as the media goes into motion creating public opinion for Zimmerman's acquittal, painting him as the victim and dragging Trayvon Martin's reputation through the mud, all this working to lay the basis for this system to do what we've seen it does again and again—let the killer of a Black man go free.
"NOT THIS TIME" wrote Carl Dix from the Revolutionary Communist Party when he announced earlier in the week that he would be coming down to Sanford to meet up with the BAsics Bus Tour and deliver a message to people in Sanford, across the country and around the world: "Too many times we have seen Black youth gunned down by cops or wanna-be-cops, too many times we have seen these killers get away scot free." Carl and the BAsics Bus Tour would be bringing a message that's part of standing up against this AND a message that points to the way out of this, to a different future for generations of youth here and all around the world.
This message came in the form of a banner, with a declaration from Bob Avakian, leader of the Revolutionary Communist Party: "No more generations of our youth, here and all around the world, whose life is over, whose fate has been sealed, who have been condemned to an early death or a life of misery and brutality, whom the system has destined for oppression and oblivion even before they are born. I say no more of that."
This banner has been signed by 100s of people throughout the region as we've been taking it to people in housing projects, immigrant neighborhoods, at high schools and other places from Athens, Gainesville, and Atlanta, while across the country people have made similar banners as a message to the people of Sanford. All the comments will be forthcoming, but some of the messages are: "On the road for humanity," "Freedom from oppression for everyone," "Never give up," "Standing for youth is our mission, but standing for humanity is a duty," "Where's my mule and 40 acres of land?" "Don't let the world stop you, continue your journey." All this was brought to the Sanford Police Station to denounce what they did the night of the murder of Trayvon Martin.
Marching up to the police station—with the decorated BAsics bus trailing behind—people waved and cheered, and circled back around on their bikes two or three times to get another look at the scene. Cars honked as the speak-out began, people were driving by to see what was going on, some pulled over to look, snap photos and get fliers. Others—a small but determined group—got out of their cars to join in. One woman was videotaping at first, but soon stepped up to be the first to speak out and when she did, she roared. Anger came pouring out. She had lived up North and spoke of what it was like when she came down to the South: "I have never seen so much racism in my life... I have never seen so many people that will put their hands on you." She described the degrading ways that people are treated and the injustice carried out by the Sanford police. A couple came from out of town to join the speak-out. Both of them spoke about the need for justice and one of them read a poem. Another Black couple came with pain still fresh to tell the story of their son who was wrongly convicted the day before of a crime they attest he did not commit. It was like their whole family was put on trial. "Do you love your son?" the prosecutor asked. They had another son who was killed at the hands of this system in another way—through the violence amongst the people as this system pits them against each other. When this son was killed, the police refused to investigate.
At this speak-out, and in going out in the neighborhood, we've heard story after story of brutality, abuse and murder of Black youth. One person told us at least five or six Black men have been killed by the Sanford police in the last few years. One woman showed us a poster with pictures of those who had been killed. Others told us through tears the painful stories. On top of the unbelievable loss was the fact that in every case we heard recounted, none of the police responsible were ever charged and little to no investigation took place.
What emerged on the steps of the police station was a defiant and spirited core of revolutionaries that gave real hope to those watching, and a small core of people from the area that stepped forward to speak bitterness—they themselves representing many more—who were watching and knew about this speak-out and supported it. One woman who came said her friend had called her up and said, "They're protesting down on 14th street. Get down there!!" After telling the story of her son being convicted she commented, "I want to be heard. I didn't know I was gonna be heard like this but I appreciate it. It feels good to be heard it really does. You have to be heard. If you don't be heard you stay hiding, and they do what they want. If I don't say nothing that means they won, and they're not gonna win, because I'm not gonna lay down."
Talking about the BAsics Bus Tour, she said "I met the revolution, I came down and I spoke to them, and they're very nice people and they're for you. Everybody needs to come out and support them." Before leaving, she scrounged through her bag to collect $10 to leave with a copy of BAsics and an organizing kit so she could be connected up with the revolution after the tour leaves town.
Another woman said she had heard about it on the local news. She described how her son had been convicted for a robbery, that he honestly confessed and said the reason he did it was because "we were bored." Then his mother fought and fought for him to have the lightest sentence possible knowing that something like this can actually lead to harsh sentencing of years in prison even for a 17-year-old with no record. She described how her son was harassed and brutalized in the custody of the police and how terrified he was.
A couple people came in Trayvon Martin T-shirts. People talked about wanting to see the struggle for justice for Trayvon Martin continue and were glad to see people stepping out and calling on others to stay in the streets.
And there was also an openness and appreciation for what the revolutionaries were bringing. Even in the speak-out there was tremendous unity and honest struggle with both people from religious views expressing their support and the communists, who are atheists, speaking from their point of view about why it's up to us to change things and keep the fight for justice going as we talk about how to get rid of all this. Right on the spot there was deep engagement with people reading quotes from BAsics, especially the one on how the role of the police is not to serve and protect the people but to serve and protect the system that rules over the people.
We'll write more about this soon, but there have also been people who have stepped up to join in any way they could. One woman brought us three tomatoes from her garden saying it was all she had, but she wanted to support this bus tour. Another person said they couldn't contribute funds, but offered to cook dinner for everyone if we brought them the food to cook with.
The speak-out continued for over an hour and a half. After emphasizing the importance of how people stepped out in protest against the murder of Trayvon Martin, the determination of his parents and tens of thousands of others to fight for justice, Carl Dix brought it to a close with the following: "We have to firm up our determination. Right now, people are being told 'it's time to get out of the streets, it's time to step back and let the system work.' Well, look, we've been looking at this system work. We've been seeing how it's worked for centuries. We've been seeing it stealing generations of our youth. NOT THIS TIME and NO MORE. We have to deliver this message now—we are not getting out of the streets. We are not stepping back to see how your system works. In fact, we're gonna try to stop the way your system works by stopping your system once and for all through revolution... when the time is right. Bringing this quote and the voice of Bob Avakian out to people throughout the South... and it will be going on and going to other places... spreading that voice and that work and opening up hope for the future, hope that this declaration of 'no more of that' can be made real by making revolution and getting this system off the face of the earth once and for all. So that's what we were contributing here today, and that's what we're going to take back to the neighborhood of Sanford tomorrow."
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